WARNING: The following contains spoilers for My Hero Academia Season 5, Episode 9 “Early Bird!” now streaming on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Hulu
Season 5 of My Hero Academia has shifted the spotlight to some characters previously only seen in passing. More members of Class 1-B are getting a chance to shine, chief among which has been the infamous Neito Monoma. He made quite an impression in his first and subsequent appearances by always challenging Class 1-A and declaring that Class 1-B would be recognized as the superior Hero class. Monoma may not have been popular among fans at first, but recent episodes have shed some more light on the reasons behind his strange behavior.
Following Class 1-B's defeat at the hands of Bakugo’s squad, Tokage attempted to apologize to Monoma. Their defeat meant that Monoma's one-sided competition against Class 1-A had officially ended in defeat -- but he refused to accept her apology.
Monoma began another one of his lofty speeches, declaring that his true aim was to make the public understand that Class 1-B’s path is the correct one. Compared to Class 1-A, which is always at the center of one conflict or the other, Class B had received virtually no media attention, positive or otherwise. Rather, they kept their heads down and focused on improving their skills and Quirks so they could become better heroes.
Monoma’s obsession with the “correct path” might be due to an insecurity about how people see him. He always puts a lot of effort into looking presentable, his fancy speech and clean-cut appearance also seem a little out of place for a student, but it does pay off. No matter the outfit he’s wearing, Monoma always looks picture-perfect. Even his hero costume, an actual tuxedo, seems designed to impress any onlookers.
Unfortunately, this complex and his Quirk don’t make for a very good combination. People in the world of My Hero Academia regard Quirks as a deeply unique gift, something that proves they're an individual. Most would find someone with the ability to copy something so personal more than a little creepy. Monoma's Quirk also doesn’t seem suited for hero work at first glance. His quick-wittedness and experience with “Copy” still make Monoma a force to reckon with in battle (especially with teammates) but against raw destructive power, he’d have limited options.
Monoma’s aggressiveness towards Class 1-A, as well as his determination to stick to the "right path," might be a way for him to compensate for his insecurities and shortcomings. After all, what better way to establish himself and his classmates as capable heroes than by outshining Class 1-A, a student body known for its powerhouses?
Monoma is also careful not to stir up any negative sentiment about himself by rule-breaking. Just like Shinso, the nature of his Quirk causes others to question the type of person he is. Standing out for the wrong reasons would only feed into these rumors and tarnish his hard-won reputation.
It’s possible that Monoma may hold some resentment towards Class 1-A. Their constant rule-breaking with no apparent consequences must feel like a slap in the face to him. But that necessarily doesn’t mean his rivalry with them is ill-spirited. Monoma even seemed to get along with Kirishima while watching their classes go head to head and even commended Bakugo’s growth after his match. Both these incidents show that he does recognize Class 1-A as peers, even if he doesn’t always show it. Monoma is a gentleman and unsportsmanlike behavior wouldn’t become the image of the hero he aspires to be.